With the unemployment rate stuck at 9.5 percent and just months remaining before midterm elections, Democrats are pushing the idea that they other, seemingly unrelated, bills are job creation measures, including the health care law, an energy and climate change bill and a measure to provide benefits to the jobless.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., whose state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, defended the Senate's efforts to get people back to work when he was asked if there are any further plans to try to pass jobs-specific legislation before the Senate adjourns for the summer at the end of the month.
Reid pointed to a bill he plans to bring to the floor next week that would extend federal jobless benefits to 99 weeks at a cost of about $34 billion.
"That legislation alone would put $34 billion into the economy," Reid said. "That's job creating right there."
The $1 trillion national health care program passed by Democrats in March will also result in new jobs, Reid said. Reid added that "the biggest jobs bill we could do" is an energy and climate change bill, which he believes will add thousands of new "green" jobs to the economy.
Reid plans to bring an energy and climate bill to the floor the week of July 26 that will include provisions calling for renewable energy sources like wind and solar, which proponents believe will help create a new clean-energy economy. But the legislation is also likely to include a cap on carbon for the utilities sector, which critics, including some Senate Democrats, believe will hurt the economy by raising energy prices and killing jobs.
The Senate has reached a stalemate on a small-business tax and lending package aimed at boosting hiring, in part because Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., want to amend the bill with a provision to reduce the estate tax.
Democrats concede it has been a struggle to convince voters they have succeeded at job creation, which they pledged to make a priority when Congress convened in January.
According to a CBS news poll released this week, just 23 percent of those surveyed said they believed the $800 billion stimulus passed in 2008 improved the economy.
The Obama administration is doing all it can to change the public's perception. On Wednesday, Obama's Council of Economic Advisors released a report showing that the stimulus saved or created 3 million jobs so far, but critics are disputing the figure, saying it is not based on counting actual jobs but rather on a mathematical formula.
Democrats know the public is getting impatient.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., said Congress should pass a clean jobs bill.
"I think a lot gets done legislatively for jobs but everything else gets piled on it and It doesn't look to America like it's a jobs bill," said Stupak, whose state has a 13.7 percent unemployment rate. "The HIRE act has been signed into law and nobody even knows we did it, that's because so many other things were stuck on it."